The young woman accused in the death of her infant son in 2016 was sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday before Judge John Atkins, who said the entire case was "difficult."
According to New Era archives, Desiree Catlett, 21, was charged with second-degree manslaughter after her 9-month-old son, Ja'Noah, drowned in a bathtub in 2016. Catlett told police she was in the room the entire time while Ja'Noah was taking a bath with his 2-year-old brother, Ja'Michael.
Catlett had a jury trial in her case in April 2018. However, the jury was undecided on her guilt, and the judge declared it a mistrial.
On Aug. 7, Catlett entered an Alford plea to reckless homicide -- which, by law, is a guilty plea that there might be enough evidence in the case to convict her but not an admission of guilt.
Prior to her sentencing, her attorney Eric Bearden asked the court to grant her probation. He argued that Catlett has never had issues following any rules while out on bond in this case.
He went on to share that she has already spent 252 days in prison, has gotten married to an active-duty soldier and had another child during the process of her case. Bearden added that she has no violent criminal history.
According to her presentence investigation report, Bearden said Catlett is not at risk for adhering to the rules of probation or to reoffending after serving her sentence. Her attorney also said Catlett understood the seriousness of her offense and what she pleaded to.
Commonwealth's Attorney Rick Boling agreed with Bearden concerning Catlett's risk of reoffending or violating conditions of probation. He too said Catlett followed the rules placed upon her to this point.
Boling said the commonwealth was neutral on Catlett receiving probation. However, he was unsure if granting probation would depreciate the seriousness of her offense.
The judge said he felt her Alford plea was appropriate in the case, but he also said the case was difficult.
"This was a very difficult case," Atkins said. "It was plain from the outset that she regretted what happened. However, I feel to probate her would unduly depreciate the seriousness of this sentence. I did listen very carefully to the evidence, and I believe this plea and sentence is appropriate."
Atkins sentenced Catlett to five years in prison. She is required to serve 20% of her sentence -- in this case, one year -- before she is eligible for parole.
The commonwealth remained neutral on shock probation, which is a motion submitted by a defense attorney no earlier than the defendant has served 60 days of her sentence and no later than 180 days. At that point, the court can grant the defendant to serve the remainder of her sentence in probation.
Reach Avery Seeger at 270-887-3236 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @AveryNewEra.